LISC Toledo Community Spotlight Event

By Tricia Hall
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter

Toledo Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) held a hybrid event on Thursday, October 7, to highlight how community development can fuel small businesses.

Local Advisory Board Chairman Joe Napoli, the president and general manager of the Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Walleye, opened the event with comments: “I want to say thank you to the sponsors and business development organizations for your support. Tonight, we recognize small businesses and entrepreneurs that are key to economic growth. Even in a pandemic, these partners rallied in the areas of growth and resilience.”

In 2017 Toledo LISC focused on four target neighborhoods and, according to Local Advisory Board Vice Chairwoman Stephanie Cousino, a key component of the conversation are small businesses. “A big part of our conversations were small businesses and support them so they can support our neighborhoods,” said Cousino. “This means grants and tax credits because small businesses support neighborhoods. Forty-four percent of Toledo’s population is employed by a small business. Families can create intergenerational wealth by having a successful small business.”

The event featured a video that included interviews from local businesses owners and entrepreneurs. The video opened by highlighting national news articles that highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Megan Davis, local owner of The Kitchen Salon, was the first interviewee. Davis explained how Covid impacted her businesses because of health restrictions in the industry, health battles that the family faced and how she reopened for business in January 2021. Additional interviewees were: Clyde Kynard, Dina Vila, Calvin Powell, Same Salami and many others.

“There were days when our restaurant only saw one to five guests all day,” Salami mentioned during the video.

“We were able to get funds together through local partnerships to assist Toledo-area businesses,” explained Brittany Burns, Toledo LISC program assistant.

The video’s theme was resilience, growth and collaboration. “Toledo LISC works alongside residents and partners,” explained Toledo LISC Sarah Allan, program officer.

“So happy to be here and sponsor and partner to develop this space with Toledo LISC. Community development is hard work, LISC partners with several entities in Toledo and we’re happy to be a partner with LISC,” explained Kattie Bond-Hancock, Lucas Metropolitan Housing senior vice president of operations and community development.

The event continued with social networking for attendees that participated in-person, while LISC Executive Director Kim Cutcher delivered closing remarks.

“Even in a pandemic times and social unrest, when we come together and partner, we get so much work done. The work supporting businesses is because we have a dedicated team, both local and national. Thank you to the local advisory board. Tonight, you heard great stories of how we responded during Covid and look for more news and opportunities. You’ve heard about the work that’s been done together, and where the gaps are. We’re excited about what is to come and excited about the work thus far.”

The Toledo LISC team: Kimberly Cutcher, Executive Director; Victor Abla, Regional Preservation Director; Sarah Allan, Program Officer; Brittany Burns, Program Assistant; Shaulonda Jones, Assistant Program Officer; Valerie Moffitt, Director of Financial Opportunities and Meyling Ruiz, Program Assistant,

Local Advisory Board: Joseph Napoli, Chairman; Stephanie Cousino, Vice Chairwoman; and members Meg Adams, Rick Avery, Megan Casiere, Gary Cates, Chris Fox, Ebonie Jackson, Ndeda Letson, Thomas Manahan Jr, Thomas Palmer, Rita Russell, Matt Sapara, Reginald Temple, Joaquin Cintron Vega and Keith Wilkowski.